Since ancient times, there is the philosophical doctrine of the helical development of mankind: we tend to repeat the events that occurred once. And saying «everything is new — it is well forgotten old» did not come out of nowhere.
Before our eyes, «virtual reality» got its second birth. The one with the helmet on his head, with gloves on his hands, as if in a movie "Lawnmower". Project Oculus Rift helmet in just half a year blew the Internet, the major game developers and publishers in all seriousness declare their support for the head-mounted display. Apparently, in the next five years, the principle of human-computer interaction will be revised. But before you rejoice in the prospects Oculus Rift, you must get to know his distant ancestor, who in his time also seemed a revolution in the world of gaming, — VFX1.
VFX1 — the first and the last ….
So close your eyes, sit down in the armchair and go back to the distant 1995. just a couple of years have passed since the coup in the world of games — came Doom. Before the first Quake another year to Unreal — three. Gradually, in the minds of consumers the impression that the personal computers can not only work, but also to play. Publishers, in turn, realize that PC games — promising area that requires immediate development and exploration. At this time, the company 3dfx only develops its first ZD accelerators Voodoo, which mark the beginning of the era of 3D-gaming.
It’s time to experiment. As a bombshell announcement sounds American company Forte Technologies -k preparing to sell the first real head-mounted display. Model VFX1 was unusually tech for its time. In fact, it was a set of high quality headphones and built-in LCD glasses. The image from the computer received in glasses, consisting of two tiny LCDs, in which users are asked to look through a small eyepiece. Because there were two small screen. I had already been implemented by the stereo output of different image to each eye. It is noteworthy that ever since the principle of the goggles did not change: become a quality optics, LCD matrix got a great solution, but from the ideological VFX1 modern helmets are no different.
For $ 1,495, for which in 1995 it was possible to buy a very good computer, the buyer in addition to points received interface ISA-board and
SD-stick Cyberpuck. Also included was a CD with games that support the conclusions in the Stereo VFX1: Heretic, Zephyr, Darker, Quarantine, Descent and Magic Carpet Games, note working in DOS, as well as a helmet, because Windows 95 has not yet been released.
If everything is clear by the helmet -kartinka the screen went directly to the glasses,
Cyberpuck was another original innovation, ahead of time.
Signs mye with Nintendo Wii consoles easily spend an analogy between the Wii Mote and Cyberpuck: joystick had gyroscopic sensor, and therefore caught the slopes on either side. Cyberpuck had to replace the mouse, which is rigidly attached to the surface of the table. With girodzhoystikom player could get up, move around the room (how much is enough cable), and move in any direction.
Cyberpuck was not the only way to control games. As befits a head-mounted display, VFX1 he also had a gyro sensor, and therefore respond to the movements of the head, but on a smaller number of axes than Cyberpuck.
In these times it seems ridiculous to play in such a helmet in some Doom, which is different graphics and realism. But VFX1 also did not shine features: each screen with a diagonal of 0.7 inches had actual resolution 260×230 pixels. It is even less accepted at the time standard resolution 320×240. However, we must bear in mind that in the absence of powerful 3D-accelerator, even such permission gaming video card did not come easy. And if the game supports stereoscopic image, the resolution is doubled.
User Experience was almost always the same: simultaneous surprise and discomfort. On the one hand, he gave VFX1 image similar to ten-screen at a distance of 10 meters. On the other, the players very quickly «riding the roof» of the movement on the screen and the proximity of the LCD matrices to the eyes: dureli lenses, but barely focused. Even in the instructions to VFXI mentioned that after every 15 minutes of use a helmet to do hour break. The situation was aggravated by poor quality plastic lenses, which in the future become possible to replace the glass (for the money, of course).
Even Cyberpuck, immersive happened. Always had the feeling of being in a movie theater, the player felt like sitting in a big dark room with a TV on the wall. But even this procedure has impressed buyers.
However, the interest quickly faded VFX1, to a large extent «thanks» to the very Forte Technologies, which weakly interact with the game developers, why after only half a year after the emergence of many game projects under Windows 95. VFX1 had a bunch of incompatibilities with popular games. Even id Software, which is how you can quickly add support to the helmet of Doom and Quake, "scored" on optimization Quake 2, making this masterpiece I was just neigrabelen in VFX1.
Later Forte released the next version of the helmet, VFX3D, which «pulled» the resolution settings and color matrix. However, by the time gamers are disappointed in virtual reality, preferring the usual high-quality 3D-gaming monitor. Cash flow consumers turned towards 3D-yckoriteley. Well helmet VFX1 declared unsuccessful experiment, the main trouble was that unsolved problems on the side of the players -"saddle" technology was much simpler than the capricious human body, which was not ready for such entertainment.
Still, the story develops in a spiral …
Oculus Rift — new look through old slots.
Back in our time. The designer of the University of South Califon Palmer Lucky, who was known for his collection of all sorts of 3D-glasses and head-mounted display, had the idea to finally make his true correct helmet with blackjack and low price. Having developed his concept of the helmet, Palmer introduced her to the game developers. The first, oddly enough, became interested in John Carmack, head of id Software — since the days of John VFX1 actively fond of the theme of deep immersion in the game. He is represented by id Software, and Valve, Unity and Epic Games have invested in the project Oculus Rift $ 16 million.
In 2012, game show EZ John Carman announced the first prototype of the Oculus Rift, which consisted of a 5.6-inch LCD display (note a) and a pair of eyepieces. The display shows two pictures, each of which only one is visible to the eye. Due to the displacement of some image the user sees the stereo image. Despite the fact that in recent years, was released a lot of video glasses. Oculus Rift interested in the press, because this helmet had one important and distinct advantage over your competitors, if any glasses had a viewing angle of about 45 degrees (which created the effect of the screen hanging in the distance), then the new helmet could boast 110 degrees, which dramatically increases the immersion in virtual world. Immediately after the show newly created company Oculus VR went on Kickstarter in search of additional investments under the project. To everyone’s surprise and even shock Oculus VR project has gained fantastic popularity — thanks to investments first million-dollar project has collected in just 36 hours. By the end of the collection of money donations received 2.6 million dollars. Donations were not gratuitous, starting with $ 275 shareholders should have received the first working samples Oculus Rift.
While the helmet is in development, many large companies have announced support Oculus Rift in their current and future projects. Besides the investors mentioned earlier, helmet makers interested in consoles, and even Sony, known for its conservatism. In April 2013, those who invest in the project on Kickstarter, began to arrive the first prototypes of the helmet specially designed for software developers and games. Specifications devkit’a were slightly more modest than those assumed in the final version: instead of Full HD-matrix has a five-inch SCREEN SAVER "the notebooks" 1280x800tochek. And the helmet shell somewhat different from the renderings, which again have been written off in the early stage of development.
Perhaps the use of a single display instead of the two is the only difference from the Oculus Rift VFX1. Ironically, by this decision have won all one screen is cheaper than two, large size paired with a good lens provides a large field of view, to the same users’ eyes get tired less. But the principle of control in 18 years has not changed. The helmet integrated accelerometer, gyroscope and magnetometer, allowing movement by both the head and the whole body are monitored very precisely and quickly. Management in the game can be carried out by any other controllers in its Cyberpuck Oculus VR "enclose" They did not.
To connect the computer Oculus Rift is much easier their ancient predecessor — USB for data on the move and HDMI / DVI video signal.
And what about the user feedback? Unlike VFX1, are heard more excited and less negativity. Yes, your eyes are still required adaptation, but thanks to improved technologies brain and eyes become accustomed to the image more quickly, and the vestibular apparatus which is loyal to what is happening on the screen due to the almost complete absence of the delay between the movements of the body and the movement on the screen.
Already, developers have managed to create a lot of interest and, notably, non-game applications for the Oculus Rift. The most spectacular and unusual simulator became the guillotine. On YouTube there is a video from the creators of the simulator, which shows the reaction of the players. Judging by the screams and nervous twitching sensations in the Oculus Rift, and the truth is very realistic. For the Romantics created a simulator of the northern lights. In general, there have been a number of independent projects, which represent an opportunity to twirl his head under the ground, on the ground, in the sky, and even in space. From the giants of the gaming industry full support Oculus Rift yet have a Half-Life 2 and playing on his Doom 3 engine and the future Doom 4, Team Fortress 2, Minecraft, Star Citizen. In the near future, and will get the full support of the engine Unreal Engine. Oculus Rift even tipped for smartphones, at least, say the creators of the helmet on the conduct of research in this direction.
Despite a deep dive into the virtual world, there is still a problem facing a stone wall on the way to a complete identification with the game character — a management problem. No mouse or Cyberpuck, nor the system of accelerometers can not replace the human desire to move in space. Only when the movement of the character in the game man will need to pass a path for real, we can talk about immersion in virtual reality. Some attempts to abandon the joysticks are now being made. A promising development was the stand Virtiux Omni, reminiscent of a sports trainer. Omni is a small area, a grid of small beads coated with low friction. The player stands on a platform and "close" themselves on it by the ring on the rods. Moving the ring on the top surface, the player remains in place, though, and creates a sense of movement. The principle of operation is vaguely reminiscent treadmills. The project was successfully funded on Kickstarter, delivery of the first copies to shareholders is expected in early 2014. Around the same period it seems likely the beginning of the free market Oculus Rift.